Presented in partnership with Wisconsin Public Radio.
New York Times-Bestselling author Caroline Paul has been an outdoor adventurer her whole life. From mountain biking in the Bolivian Andes to pitching a tent, mid-blizzard on Denali to flying experimental planes, Paul has never been a stranger to the beauty and benefits of outdoor activity. But as she hit her mid-fifties and was often the only woman paddling a surfboard or riding a skateboard, she began to wonder why women, like men, aren’t encouraged to keep adventuring into old age. “Isn’t being outside a vital elixir?” she writes. “Isn’t adventure enlivening, and an important challenge? Why, then, aren’t older women out here with me?”
In her newest book, Tough Broad: From Boogie Boarding to Wing Walking - How Outdoor Adventure Improves Our Lives as We Age, Paul embarks on a quest to understand how not just to live a dynamic life in a changing body in defiance of societal expectations but why we must. Along the way, she uncovers the science and the psychology that shows how outdoor adventure may be the single best solution for a healthy brain, a vital body, a confident mindset, and a longer, happier life, and meets women whose outdoor activities have changed their outlook on growing older, bringing them fulfillment, community and endless joy.
Combining scientific research, cultural studies, medicine, psychology, and memoir, Paul travels the country sharing women’s narratives alongside her own incredible experiences, illustrating how outdoor activity positively affects a person’s spirit, body, brain, and heart. From BASE jumping with 52-year-old Drew Brooks in Yosemite National Park to scuba-diving with 80-year old Louise Wholey, riding BMX bikes with 74-year-old Miss Kittie, the oldest female racer competing in the United States today, to meeting the weekly group of septuagenarian wave catchers who boogie board together in the San Diego surf, these women’s stories offer important insights into our own physical and emotional health as we age, showing that growing older is no reason for women to sell themselves short.
Caroline Paul is the author of the New York Times bestseller The Gutsy Girl: Escapades for Your Life of Epic Adventure and Lost Cat: A True Story of Love, Desperation, and GPS Technology, which has been translated into fifteen languages. She is also the author of the memoir Fighting Fire, the middle-grade book You Are Mighty: A Guide to Changing the World, and the novel East Wind, Rain. Her TED Talk, “To Raise Brave Girls, Encourage Adventure,” has been viewed over 2 million times. A longtime member of the Writers Grotto, she lives in San Francisco.